August 15th, 2017

“Being a trumpet player in an orchestra taught me what moves and inspires people.”

Michael Sapienza was a world-class orchestra musician traveling and performing around the globe when he discovered that his mom had colon cancer. Not even knowing at first where a colon was located, he dived into research and realized that few resources were available to families affected by this terrible disease.

Incredibly, he decided to channel his grief into action, leaving a successful music career to launch a colon cancer foundation! And, as it turned out, many of the skills Michael acquired in his music career – and supporting his family through his mom’s illness – have helped him tune in (pun intended) as a leader. You must listen to this amazing, inspiring interview!

What you’ll learn

  • The amazing story of how a professional world-class orchestra musician touring in Europe and globe-wide ended up running a cancer foundation
  • About a call from his parents that ultimately transformed his life and life mission
  • How Michael launched the Colon Cancer Alliance and asked for his first “big” donation (only to find out he should have asked for more)
  • Fascinating parallels Michael draws between being a musician with having business and non-profit management acumen
  • How to message and draw support for something that’s hard to talk about – cancer – to a broader audience
  • Clever and informative ways his organization gets the word out about colon cancer (hint: get screened beginning 45-50 or sooner if you have history of colon cancer in your family)
  • How Michael copes with ongoing exposure to death and supporting others through sickness and grief
  • What Michael learned about building trust, “storming” phase of group development and his growing edges through their merger
  • And so much more!

Links & Resources

About Michael Sapienza

Michael Sapienza, Chief Executive Officer of The Colon Cancer Alliance, lost his mother to the disease in May of 2009 and served as President and Founder of The Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation from 2010-2015. He has turned his profound grief into action, inspiring and challenging the colorectal cancer community, family, friends and professional associates to follow his lead and dedicate themselves to this cause and the Colon Cancer Alliance mission.

Michael was an integral member of the team that led the effort to merge the Colon Cancer Alliance, and the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation creating the nation’s largest colon cancer specific nonprofit. Michael is a member of The Ruesch Center for the Cure of GI Cancer’s Advisory board at Georgetown University. In 2014, Michael received three prestigious industry awards; the David Jagelman, MD Award for advocacy in Colorectal Cancer Awareness by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, the Public Service Award from the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, and the Champion Award from Preventing Colorectal Cancer. He regularly appears on TV, and radio programs throughout the United States to promote the importance of increased funding for colorectal cancer research, and early detection.

Michael holds degrees from both Northwestern University and Rice University and currently resides in the District of Columbia.




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